We’re set to be treated to some fine racing this weekend, with key meetings taking place at Ascot and Haydock among others. Ahead of the action, we preview some of the key bets to keep an eye on.

Wind can’t blow Sporting John off track

The biggest threat to Sporting John keeping his unbeaten record intact may come in the shape of Storm Dennis this weekend. Philip Hobbs’ juvenile has coped well with testing ground on both his starts under rules and has to be fancied for the hat-trick, regardless of whether he lines up at Ascot on Saturday or Exeter on Sunday.

Master Debonair will provide the main opposition, and he’ll have plenty of support following his impressive win in the Supreme Trial at Ascot. With nine runs under his belt he’s also a far more experienced horse than Sporting John, while he’s proved to be versatile in terms of ground.

On official ratings, Sporting John has 5lbs to find with Master Debonair, but the former has bundles of ability and is worth chancing before he becomes the talk of the town.

Sam Brown won’t get stuck in the mud

The 3m Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday will be no stroll in the park. Conditions at the Berkshire track will be very testing given all the recent rainfall and that will be no problem for Sam Brown, who is available at 5/2. Anthony Honeyball’s lightly-raced novice spent 750 days off the track before rocketing to two wide-margin wins this year at Lingfield and Haydock, both on heavy ground.

This is a tougher race once again and he will need to run a career best against stiff opposition, notably Copperhead and Pym. With Pym, he’s unproven on soft ground, but he looks short enough at 5/2 and could run into trouble around a soggy Swinley Bottom.

Copperhead at 10/3 would be more interesting having performed well in testing conditions at Newbury over Christmas. He looks a progressive type, but Sam Brown probably has the stronger form in the book and just about gets the nod.

Yala Enki can pass Grand National Trial

With the weights for the 2020 Grand National revealed earlier this week, you can be sure that nobody will be hiding from the handicapper in the Grand National Trial at Haydock on Saturday. Favourite Yala Enki is the one to back here, following his comfortable win over 3m4f in testing ground at Taunton last month.

That performance reconfirmed his love of soft ground and there won’t be a more stamina-sapping race anywhere in the world this weekend than this. He stays all day and is now firing on all cylinders following a wind op at the end of last season. Bryony Frost gets on well with the 10-year-old and should be backed at 5/1.

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